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Charlie Chan Books In Order

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Publication Order of Charlie Chan Books

The House Without a Key (1925)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Chinese Parrot (1926)Description / Buy at Amazon
Behind That Curtain (1928)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Black Camel (1929)Description / Buy at Amazon
Charlie Chan Carries On (1930)Description / Buy at Amazon
Keeper of the Keys (1932)Description / Buy at Amazon
Charlie Chan in the Temple of the Golden Horde (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Charlie Chan Collections

Celebrated Cases of Charlie Chan (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon

The Charlie Chan series is a series of detective fiction novels written by one of the world famous authors named Earl Derr Biggers. The series features the fictional character called Charlie Chan, which is loosely based on the Honolulu detective Chang Apana by author Biggers. While developing the character, author Biggers conceived the heroic and benevolent Charlie Chan as an alternative to the Yellow Peril stereotypes and the villains such as Fu Manchu. Chan is described as a detective working for the Honolulu police. However, in many of the stories, he is depicted as travelling through various parts of the world for investigating various mysteries and solving different crimes. The first appearance of Chan was in the debut novel of this series and then he went on to appear in a number of other media forms. More than 4 dozen films were made in which Chan was featured, beginning from the year 1926. This character was portrayed for the first time by the actors from East Asia, but those films saw only a little success. In the year 1931, the Swedish actor named Warner Oland was cast by the Fox Film production company in the role of Chan in the movie titled Charlie Chan Carries On. This film became very famous after which the production house went on to produce 15 more Chan movies featuring Oland in the lead role. When Warner Oland died, an American actor named Sidney Toler was roped in for the role of Chan. He was cast in a total of 22 Chan movies.

For the first time, he was signed by Fozx and then by the Monogram Studios. Post the death of Sidney Toler, 6 more movies were made starring Roland Winters as Charlie Chan. Chan was greeted warmly by the novel readers as well as the movie watchers of white America. He was seen as an attractive character. The audiences liked him being portrayed as a heroic, intelligent, honorable, and benevolent, as opposed to the racist depictions of the conniving or evil Asians who used to dominate the national media and Hollywood. However, during the later decades the critics found Chan to reinforce the concending stereotypes of Asia, despite all his good qualities. This was seen in his incapacity of speaking idiomatic English and a subservient and tradition bound nature. A number of critics thought of it as objectionable that Chan was played by Caucasian actors on screen in yellowface. The film adaptations that were made during the 1900s based on the Chan novels were very poorly received. Apart from the novels and movies, Chan’s character has also featured in a number of radio programs, comics, and a couple of television shows. Author Biggers had created the character of Charlie Chan in the year 1919. When he was on a trip to Hawaii, he was planning to write a novel that was to be titled as The House Without A Key. Unfortunately, he was not able to even start the novel until the next 4 years. When he finally made up his mind to begin the writing work of the novel, he was inspired to create a Chinese-American officer and add him in the plot.

Author Biggers got this idea from a newspaper column about a couple of detectives from the Honolulu police force named Chang Apana and Lee Fook. He did not like the stereotypes of the Yellow Peril that he came across in California and therefore conceived explicitly of the character as a better option for those stereotypes. The amiable Chinese character made its first appearance in the 1925 novel titled The House Without a Key. In the novel, Chan’s character was not the central one and was not even mentioned on the first edition’s dust jacket. Author Biggers has described Chan in the book as walking with the light step of a woman and as a fat man. The critic named Sandra Hawley has said that this type of description of Charlie Chan’s character allowed author Biggers to portray him as a nonthreatening personality, as opposed to the evil characters from China. Simultaneously, Biggers has emphasized on the Chinese characteristics like stoicism and impassivity supposedly while describing the character sketch of Charlie and Chan. In the years that followed, Chan’s character was portrayed in films, television shows, Chinese and Spanish adaptations, comics, etc.

The Charlie Chan series written by Earl Biggers consists of a total of 6 books, which were released between the years 1925 and 1932. One of the most popular books of this series is titled as ‘Behind That Curtain’. It was released by the Warner Books in the year 1987, after being originally published in the year 1928. Author Biggers has set this book in California. The story revolves around the former Scotland Yard head, Frederic Bruce, a hard working detective who pursues the long trail of a killer. Around 15 years back, a London solicitor was murdered and the only clue that the police could find was a Chinese slippers pair. Since then, Sir Frederic Bruce has been trying to catch hold of the killer. Related to the case, he even investigates about a series of missing women all around the world. It appears that the killing of the London solicitor is linked to one particular missing woman named Eve Durand, who used to live in rural India at that time. Now, just as it appears that Sir Frederic would solve the case, he is invited in a party involving some of the most important guests of the city. Later, his dead body is discovered from the party. He too was wearing Chinese slippers at the time of his death. Now, the case comes to Chan to solve using his intelligence and wit. He is asked to try to tie up the loose ends and try and catch the killer before he takes the life of another victim.

Another famous book in the series is titled as ‘The Black Camel’. This book was published by the Mysterious Press publication in the year 1987, after it was first released in the year 1923. Author Biggers has set this novel in Hawaii, United States. As the novel begins, Shelah Fane is depicted as being one of the loved and well-known actresses of the silver screen throughout the world. But, on one glittering night in Hawaii, her successful career saw a brutal end. She was stabbed and killed on the tranquil Waikiki beach. A number of fans turned up when they heard about the murder of their loving start. Charlie Chan addresses the guests that had come to the pavilion of the actress at the time of her killing. When Chan begins the investigation in the murder case, he comes across an interrelated crime that revolves around a past murky mystery of Hollywood. Chan faces a lot of difficulties while solving the case because of the false clues, bizarre characters, and alibis confusions. But, he does not lose his calm and goes on to gather the suspects classically in the climax and shows his style of justice with immense force.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Charlie Chan

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